CW #4: CULTURE

 
 

WHAT IS YOUR CULTURAL COMPREHENSION?

Have you ever heard of the expression “superior culture”, “high culture” and “advanced civilization”? Sounds like a superhuman nation, or perhaps a group of people arising out of hierarchical needs? What we mean to say when talking about so-called “advanced civilizations” is that a group of people decided to overcome natural dependencies, such as climate reliances concerning food cultivation. This desire happens out of the need for security. Be that as it may, the reflection on society’s progress does not indicate valuation or purpose. In fact, its categorization seems to provoke much more irritation among cultural orientations. When referring to culture, we always need to keep in mind that everything we do is culture. There is no such thing as superior or inferior culture. To make this point clear, the following article is going to introduce you to a cultural discussion starting from crops. Welcome to CW #4: CULTURE!

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hello dear reader,

Culture. No other word has been discussed so often and intense since ages. Isn´t it amazing how fashionable its usage has become? By now you are able to relate to the term culture in various areas. It is a word with a multitude of possible applications. But what exactly do we mean by this? The following word combinations are going to serve as examples. Have you ever heard of the terms “corporate culture”, “popular culture”, “subculture”, “cultural technology” or “multicultural”? This may just be a short listing of randomly picked neologisms. However, all of the above pursue the same goal: the implication of a dynamic, vivid and changeable setting!

From the perspective of historical linguistics the term culture dates back to the Roman empire. It derives from the Latin word colo, colui meaning on the one hand to nurture, to take care and on the other hand to build, to farm. Hence the linguistics reveal its intentional and transformative character. Furthermore the historical interpretation relates to agricultural aspects, just like the word itself indicates. In the early days the maintenance of soil and crops represented its main concern. Yet, the action of gardening and landscaping had an immense impact on societal development and has allowed independence regarding foods and nutrition ever since. Culture describes the separation of natural and shapeable circumstances. What is more, it illustrates a replacement of given conditions by actively participating in lifestyle. The common idea behind these activities is pretty clear: the adjustment and alteration of natural conditions in favor of society and social development.

Trying to narrow down the spectrum of cultural possibilities is almost infinite. Though, to make a more basic approach possible, I would like to introduce Norbert Elias to the discussion. Elias, who is mostly known for his theory of civilizing/ decivilizing processes, is a German sociologist. Obviously, he understood how to get close to a valid description by characterizing culture as the sum of intellectual achievements of a period or nation. When speaking of culture we relate to values and norms, behavior patterns, social anticipations, rules, ways of thinking, lifestyles, and many more. What we describe as culture is actually the common base of cohabitation. In this case, and by the previously specification, intellectual achievements are functioning as modules of building society.

Ever since society has been reproduced, a transition of responsible entities has been carried out. For hundreds of years most regulations have been determined by religious force. Besides very few nations, this case is still found in most cultures. Apart from that, the political regime forms another very common foundation regarding structural development. Both instances have had a massive impact on society and gave meaning to life by implementing rules, manners, values and norms into a common cultural comprehension. Largely, culture is understood as customs and traditions, in which rituals are being performed to revitalize and obtain cultural history. Culture creates identity, provides affiliation and thereby conveys an important message: the power of unity.

Culture acts as an essential foundation, though it is not a given unit! If anything it can be seen as a “product” designed by humans. What we call culture is the outcome of performing modification. By taking Elias´ analysis into account, the cultural act appears to be a cooperation with dependencies. Culture itself fails to exist without active participation. A similar comparison is shown by the plant pollination. The entire ecosystem and its delicately balanced framework rely on a cooperation of mutual nourishment. Neither the animals, for example the bees, nor the plants could survive without this activity. To return back to our original discussion, culture will not be existent without humanity. At the same time, there is not a single group of human beings without cultural standards. Therefore there is no superior or inferior culture, only various cultures can be found and described.

The visualization below tries to get closer to an image of natural, human and cultural co-existence, or rather cooperation. While the image shows three strict separate components, the reality is that all of them operate interdimensional. The purpose behind this idea is that every element remains inexistent without each other´s influence, though at the same time represent a solid and descriptive system.

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Another essential note is that culture cannot be transferred statically to society. It is rather seen as a development emerging from interactions within society. The durable discussion about cultural integration, nowadays renamed into inclusion, fails, thus it is in need of common denominators. Furthermore cultural inclusion can only be put into practice by understanding its parameter. Culture is primarily a vivid issue not a motionless good. At this point it is important to clarify the difference between culture itself and cultural goods. Cultural goods may appear as material items, such as tools. Clearly they make up an important amount of cultural realization. Having said this, when talking about cultural standards I am initially referring to more structural backgrounds.

The probably most important message within this article is that humans, being the only part of all three components, can be described as the ones to initiate interaction. Society is being formed by human beings. Its elements of cohabitation are seen as key points of cultural realization. However society itself is understood as part of nature since forming social groups represents a human need. The most interesting point in the course of our cultural analysis is that human beings are a part of nature, yet still they have the capacities to create individual structures and experience autonomy. What makes human capacities so special? It is the ability of direct confrontation with natural subcomponents. Moreover, human beings are able to reflect on nature and natural circumstances, which automatically enables an adjustment regarding individual and/ or social interests and needs. According to that, culture and its features are being shaped by human ideas and abilities. Consequently this analysis proves that human beings do have an effective impact on life.

It has been barely a few decades in which we remove ourselves from external determination. Apart from this, we may have the chance to participate actively on the organization of cultural implementation. However what is missing are self-determined coping strategies. Due to long-lasted predetermined living settings it has not necessarily been a need to explore cultural realization to that extend. It is highly recommendable to get into the topic of autonomy, since this is going to be a standard our so-called “modern” society is making use of. At the same time there is a regenerated opportunity to achieve personal fulfillment and therefore personal growth.

This is it - CW #4: CULTURE comes to an end. I do really hope you are able to groove yourself into the topics and find your personal method of processing. In any case, I am right here! PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR SUGGESTIONS. This is a one-year project we pass through together.

Other than that, I want you to have a successful calendar week #4. Enjoy, have fun and eat well. My next contributions will published from Crete, an island in my home country Greece. Talking about cultures! It has been a dream for many years…. Back to the roots!

LOVE,

Ana